Training with Pain: Should I push through it?

Daniel Lee
by Daniel Lee

Getting pain or suffering an injury while training sucks! Whether you’ve just started after months of procrastination, or whether your a seasoned training vet. Having to stop or break from training, just as you’re gathering momentum and seeing results can be absolutely soul crushing and incredibly frustrating. The fantastic news is that this doesn’t have to be the case! In almost all circumstances, an injury doesn’t mean having to stop your training completely, and in fact, there are numerous benefits to keeping up with your training when injured.

 

We often hear stories of patients getting injured and being told by their health professionals to stop training completely, whilst recovering from whatever injury they’ve sustained. While this sounds reasonable in theory, it may actually result in more problems further down the track.

While they may no longer be in any pain after six weeks of rest, this process leaves them in an even worse and weaker state than before getting injured, and they end up spending even more time getting back to their starting point. In addition, they may have settled their symptoms down but not actually addressed the underlying cause of the problem, which means things flare-up again as they jump back into training.

Here are 4 reasons why keeping up with your training is beneficial when dealing with an injury:

1)Keeping up with your training improves the speed of recovery and allows you to address the root cause of your problem.

The majority of all musculoskeletal injuries happen as a result of an overload, which essentially means the structures in the body lack the capacity to deal with the load or demands being placed upon it.

In order to overcome an injury we can change, or modify the load on an injured body part to prevent further injury, whilst continuing to exercise it in a slightly different way.

We can do this by –

  • Changing the type of movement or exercise – such as using the machine chest press instead of a barbell bench press when you have a shoulder injury, or leg press instead of a squat when suffering a knee injury.
  • Reducing the frequency or intensity of the exercise – such as reducing the number of reps and sets, or the weight with an exercises, or running 5km instead of 8km.
  • Finding alternative ways to train – such as riding a bike or cross trainer instead of running, or doing seated exercises at the gym, or even doing pool exercises.

These strategies allow us to avoid the “stop-everything” approach, by adjusting your load to an appropriate level and giving your body time to adapt and improve. During this time, you can still use the affected body part in a safe and controlled manner, and slowly build up your load again. This is also the time to target specific weaknesses or weak links in your body, which reduces the risk of re-injury once you’ve made a full recovery.

2) Keeping up with you training prevents loss of strength and fitness.

Taking a significant period off training leads to deconditioning. Essentially, we lose most, if not all of the gains we’ve made whilst training. By keeping up your training when an injury occurs, we minimise any loss of strength or conditioning during the recovery process, meaning you can keep the rest of your body as fit as possible. This makes it much easier to get back into your regular program the moment you’ve recovered.

3) Keeping up with your training helps you stay consistent.

Most people find that staying consistent with their training is easiest once they’ve developed a regular routine. Taking several weeks off from the gym can cause you to lose that routine, which creates an entirely new hurdle for yourself to try and get back into the habit of regular training.

Losing momentum or motivation is killer and it can become a struggle to drag yourself back to the gym or back to the 5am wake-ups.

4) Keeping up with your exercise keeps you active, healthy and happy!

Regular exercise has been shown over countless studies to have numerous physical and mental health benefits. Staying active ensures that our bodies remain strong and resilient while reducing the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease, diabetes, cancer, depression and lowers all-round causes of mortality. If you train with a partner or a group, it helps you maintain social connections and build relationships, as well as staying connected with like-minded individuals.

Exercise also results in the release of endorphins, reduces stress levels, and can put us in a better mood throughout the day. In addition, it can improve our sleep quality and appetite, which are two factors that are essential to the body’s recovery. In reality, anyone who tells you to stop exercising doesn’t have your best interests in mind!

Dealing with pain and injury is often one of the biggest challenges when training. However, it doesn’t mean you should stop training completely. In almost every case, injuries can be managed and exercises can be modified to allow you to keep training through this time, which will set you up for success in the future.

 

If you’ve suffered an injury whilst training, book an appointment to see one of Physiotherapists.